Noatak River, Alaska August 2015

From Nelson Walker Lake to Kotzebue

August 7, 2015

Not so cold this morning as we broke down camp and were on the water by 8:30. Lots of rapids on this section, but similar to yesterday we are able to read and run. We are working well as a team and it is fun to avoid the rocks as we maneuver the rapids.  After finishing a section of rapids, we (Don) noticed a group of Musk Oxen.  They were on both sides of the river, but when they noticed us the one group which seemed to be males plunged into the water and swam across.  It was quite the amazing sighting seeing these large animals swimming across the river. We were mesmerized by these animals and watched as the young frolicked and the adults ate. Eventually they made their way to the top of a ridge. Before going out of sight they lined up and seemed to give us a parting look. We felt blessed to have seen them. As we were getting ready to start paddling again Don noticed another herd a little ways down. They were on top of a river bank. Perhaps we could stop below them and work our way up the bank to their location. Don slowly approached and then started the camera shooting. Soon he motioned for me to come and take a look. Unbelievable! They seemed to be aware of our presence but as long as we kept a certain distance they were content to not feel threatened. A large male with hair flowing to the ground was an imposing figure. At one point they moved as a group a bit farther away, but then laid down and seemed to be at peace with the world. Finally we decided that we needed to start moving again. Several animals in this group, like the first group that we had seen, followed us with their eyes. I (Donna) felt that they were wishing us well as we were sharing this great land. This day continued to be our wildlife day.  Our next sighting was that of a Peregrin Falcon family.  Two adults with a baby on the nest let us know we were in their territory.  The adults flew quite close overhead warning us that we should keep moving. The rain began falling as we looked for the Aniuk River. Again we did not want to camp near it for bear reasons and after seeing it we continued downstream looking for a gravel bank camping site.  It had begun to rain quite hard so selecting a site that had some elevation to it was important. The site appeared and so did a short break in the rain allowing us to set up a relative dry camp. I (Donna) decided that it was a good night for pizza. As we waited for the pizza to cook we enjoyed our tea and chocolate. The rain continued, the pizza was great and so was getting into our warm dry sleeping bags.

Miles traveled 32